Cesc Fabregas claims he is training with the enthusiasm of his teenage self in a bid to win over Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Fabregas fired an extra-time brace to give Chelsea a 4-2 win in Tuesday’s EFL Cup third-round tie at Leicester City, but he is yet to start a Premier League match under the Italian.
Conte praised the Spain international for his work behind the scenes in improving his defensive contribution after the match, while Fabregas hopes a demonstration of his more widely celebrated attacking talents has made a compelling case ahead of Saturday’s game against his former club Arsenal.
“Hopefully, I can open his eyes and make him see that I deserve to play,” said the 29-year-old, who was also omitted from Julen Lopetegui’s maiden Spain squad for matches against Belgium and Liechtenstein earlier this month.
“It’s a new situation for me in my career after 13 years of basically playing everything for my club and national team, and it’s been tough, I’m not going to deny it.
“But the last thing I will do is complain or put my hands up and give in. Something from inside is coming out stronger than ever and I just feel like a little boy in training, trying to win my spot back as I used to do at Arsenal when I was 16.
“I’ve been training very hard. You have to be professional. You have to keep your attitude. All my team-mates deserve respect. My coach deserves respect because I know he wants to win and if he doesn’t play me there is always a reason.”
Fabregas appreciates his two-goal salvo might not be enough to win a starting spot at Emirates Stadium.
“It’s too early,” he said. “I’m not going to deny I want to play every single minute – it’s what I work for – but the coach chooses the 11 he thinks is best suited to win the game.
“Wherever I am I will support the team. Inside, outside and when my time comes I will try to perform as I have been doing over the last few weeks.
“Arsenal is a special fixture because I’ve lived moments there that I’ve never lived in my career. It’s a very special place for me and that’s it.
“No matter what I hear or what they say to me, Arsenal will always be a fantastic, special club in my heart.
“They gave me absolutely everything and I will repeat it until I die, no matter what they will always be in my heart.”
As the famously meticulous Conte continues to search for a balance between attack and defence during the opening weeks of his Chelsea reign, Fabregas explained he is not the only midfielder to have come in for special attention at their Cobham training base.
“[Conte] speaks a lot,” he added. “He spoke to me a few times as well. He wants the midfielders to be very complete, to be physically strong. We are training very hard for it.
“If you have to analyse me, maybe I’m a bit more the playmaker, creative going forward and he wants me to be a little bit more stable and compact in defence.
“For [Nemanja] Matic, who is the opposite of me, he wants him to be better offensively. For Oscar, for [N’Golo] Kante, he works with every aspect for us to be the best we can.”